Faultless England up and running
England made a perfect start in their attempt to add the ICC World Twenty to the World Cup they won three months ago by thrashing India by 10 wickets at Taunton.
After Holly Colvin had recorded her best figures in Twenty20 internationals to restrict India to a feeble 112 for eight, openers Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor raced to the victory target with 26 balls remaining.
Edwards cracked two maximums in an unbeaten 61 from 53 deliveries while the stylish Taylor finished on 50 not out.
It was all rather straightforward against the side perceived as England’s greatest threat in Group B.
India won the toss and elected to bat first but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
After handing off-spinner Laura Marsh first use of the new ball – an experiment which lasted one over – Edwards introduced Nicky Shaw into the attack.
It was a move which reaped rich dividends as Shaw, player of the match in the World Cup final, made a mess of Latika Kumari stumps with just 10 runs on the board.
The wicket brought the elegant Mithali Raj to the crease – India’s star batter – but she struggled to let the handbrake off as wickets fell around her.
Colvin and Edwards combined twice to dismiss Anjum Chopra and Rumeli Dhar, the England skipper taking two excellent catches, the first a tumbling effort as she prowled at short extra-cover.
Fellow spinner Laura Marsh, England’s best bowler during the World Cup triumph, then clipped the top of Amita Sharma’s off stump after she unwisely attempted a reverse sweep.
India further slumped to 54 for five when Priyanka Roy’s sliced drive off Colvin was plucked out of the Taunton sky by Marsh at point.
Colvin eventually finished with 3-20, her best in Twenty20 internationals and figures which underlined the value of a top-quality spinner in this form of the game.
Pugnacious wicketkeeper Sulakshana Naik did her best to get India back on track with a series of well-timed strokes during a 35-run stand with Raj.
But their counter-attack was brought to an end when Edwards tempted Raj into an ungainly swipe across the line, the batter missing and paying with the loss of her off stump.
Harmanpreet Kaur perished attempting something similar off the returning Shaw as India slipped further into the mire at 102 for seven after 18 overs.
Naik departed in the next over, run out in the desperate search for late runs by Claire Taylor, leaving Jhulan Goswami to swing wildly at the death.
In reply Sarah Taylor brought the lively Taunton crowd to their feet with a handful of fine boundaries, the best being a punched drive through the covers off Dhar as England reached 25 without loss in the fifth over.
Edwards struggled to find her timing while Taylor flourished but the captain sprung into life in the sixth over with a sweep for six off Sharma that flew towards the dug outs.
She finished the over in style, waltzing down the wicket before flicking a half-volley over midwicket for four.
Taylor continued in typically effortless manner, delightfully lifting Gouhar Sultana over extra cover to register her fifth boundary.
Edwards had a let-off in the tenth over when she was dropped by Goswami at midwicket when on 20 and the skipper made India pay for that blemish as she battered the spinners particularly square of the wicket.
The returning Goswami, the number one bowler in women’s cricket, was not spared as Taylor moves towards a half-century with a lofted drive over extra-cover.
Edwards would beat her to the landmark, sweeping Reema Malhotra for six before pushing a single down the ground and acknowledging warm applause.
It was soon Taylor’s turn to take the adulation as England cantered home.